JOHANNESBURG - Pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom said on Monday it was investing eight billion Egyptian Pounds (U.S.$400 million) over the next three years, as part of a major partnership with Telecom Egypt which includes network infrastructure and data centres.
This follows the signing of a landmark partnership agreement to mark the completion of Liquid Telecom's award-winning 'Cape to Cairo' network which represents the first direct land-based terrestrial fibre link between the two cities at opposite ends of the African continent.
Telecom Egypt is the first operator in that country providing all telecom services to its customers including fixed and mobile voice and data services.
It will use the network to connect Egyptian businesses to the rest of Africa, whilst also partnering with Liquid Telecom to build data centres across the country.
After an initial investment of U.S.$50 million in data centres and cloud services, Liquid Telecom plans to invest an additional U.S.$350 million in broadband and financial inclusion initiatives, as well as high capacity data centres, similar to some of the best-in-class data centres in South Africa.
Liquid Telecom’s expanding network is almost 70,000 km and is linked to more than 600 towns and cities in 13 countries across Africa. It is also part of the wider ‘One Africa’ broadband network which has been strongly supported by the African Union leadership.
The deal between the two companies was signed at the weekend during the Africa Forum in Cairo. President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi welcomed the development as a major milestone in connecting his country with the rest of the continent and said he would continue to push the initiative during his tenure next year as chair of the 54-member African Union.
Group executive chairman of Liquid Telecom’s parent company Econet, Strive Masiyiwa, said the next mission was to complete a link between Cairo and Dakar in Senegal through Sudan, Chad and Nigeria, as well as the rest of West Africa.
“We have already crossed Africa from East to West through Sudan and Chad. We are at the Nigerian border and we expect to reach Abuja by the end of January in time for the AU Summit. We want to reach Dakar before President El-Sisi finishes his term,” Masiyiwa said.
“It would have been impossible to reach this far so quickly without [AU chairman Paul Kagame's] support. He adopted this initiative as a key project during his tenure and has been highly supportive throughout its development. We know President El-Sisi will help us take it to the next level because he understands the vision of Africa.”
Masiyiwa also expressed his appreciation for leadership support across the continent, saying the ‘One Africa’ model could encourage other entrepreneurs to build projects in complementary sectors, such as rail and power.